Today's Outrage: Ready for the Worst at Citigroup

U.S. officials are preparing for the worst at Citigroup -- but only as a precaution. Investors think the stock is no better than a lottery ticket.
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Updated from 1:03 p.m. EDT

Hot on the heels of the February restructuring that gave the U.S. government 36% of

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

, more plans are being hatched to

stabilize the bank

, according to

The Wall Street Journal

.

It's all off-the-record stuff with no sources named, and it's supposedly worst-case scenario planning -- just in case something unexpectedly bad happens. No one is saying they expect something bad to happen. The unnamed U.S. officials just want to be ready.

Meanwhile, Citi CEO Vikram Pandit tried to reassure his staff Monday that everything is fine, except the bank's share price of $1 and change.

Citi's worth much more

than that, according to Pandit, and the bank has been profitable in the first two months of 2009.

So don't read too much into all this chatter about another rescue initiative. It's all good.

If there was something to tell, you can rest assured that you'll find out eventually. You know, after it's been done and the government completely controls Citi and whatever shares you own are worth even less.

Forgive me for being pessimistic, but this bank doesn't exactly inspire confidence these days.

While Citi's stock is rising today -- closing 38.1% higher at $1.45 -- it remains among the cheapest of the major banks.

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

closed at $4.79, a gain of 27.7%,

Wells Fargo

(WFC) - Get Report

added 18.5% to close at $11.81,

U.S. Bancorp

(USB) - Get Report

rose 11.9% to close at $11.40 and

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

closed 22.6% higher at $19.50.

Traders on our sister site,

Stockpickr.com

, say

Citi's stock is no better than a lottery ticker.

In fact, one investor said it's more like a discarded scratch-off lottery stub that shows it's already a loser.

So it's not just me, folks.

If the government thinks it's wise to be ready for the worst, investors should be too.

Hall is the editor of

TheStreet.com

. Previously, he served as deputy editor and chief innovation officer at

The Orange County Register

and as a news manager at

Bloomberg News

in Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Washington, D.C. As a reporter, he covered business and financial markets, worked in both print and television in the U.S. and Europe, and conducted in-depth investigative coverage at

The Journal-Gazette

in Fort Wayne, Ind. His work also has been published in a variety of newspapers including

The Wall Street Journal

,

The New York Times

and

International Herald Tribune

. Hall received a bachelor�s degree in journalism and political science from The Ohio State University and has taken graduate management science courses at Boston University.